If we were all in a room together, I would ask with a show of hands – how many of you have had a moment this week where you feel like you were a “bad” mom? My guess is that almost every hand in the room would go up because as moms we tend to be very hard on ourselves. Most moms feel like they should be doing more, cooking healthier, limiting screen time, getting more sleep or engaging in more activities to better prepare our kids for life outside of our house.
In the last week, I’ve talked to mom friends about the guilt of missing their kids and being relieved that they weren’t around all in the same breath. In another conversation, a mom admitted she’s not sure she even likes being a mom and the tasks that come along with it. And a third expressed her utter exhaustion of mind and body after a long day with a toddler. These are not unique stories. Each of us feels some version of one of these at least once a day. Social media is filled with similar posts where these moms receive messages of support assuring them, they are not alone in their feelings.
If we all feel this way, at least at some point or another, what are we doing about it? In our “let’s fix it” society, this seems to be a yolk moms pick up when they become pregnant and never set down.
I highly doubt any of us wake up in the morning and think – today I’m going to do what I can do be a “bad” mom. No way. I think we all wake up, tired or refreshed, looking forward to or dreading what is going to happen throughout the day. But regardless of our outlook, I believe we always set out at the beginning of the day to do the best we can. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we try our best in the moment. Sometimes our best is not what we would like it to be, but again, it’s not that we are intentionally trying to be “bad” or screw things up.
So, if we are not intentionally trying to do a “bad” job, then why are we so worried about it? We beat ourselves up over a time we lost it and yelled, or a missed ball game, thinking that we now have to “make it up” to our child. We seek validation, sometimes from our kids, sometimes from those around us that we are doing a “good” job as a mom. If enough people tell us we were right or that it’s ok, it somehow calms our ego enough to let it go…..until the next time something similar happens and you are right back to that feeling of being a “bad” mom.
We are so accustomed to receiving feedback from others, we never take the time to look to see why everyone else’s opinion matters so much. For all the wonderful connections social media has allowed us to have, it has also given us instant gratification (or demoralization) of how many likes or comments we have gotten from a post. In this constant pursuit of external validation, we stop listening to the voice that matters the most, our own. We spend hours chasing validation from all of those around us, when instead we should be listening to the voice that has always been with us. (You know that little voice that knows with just a look that your child doesn’t feel good or has had a bad day with a friend. It’s that same voice that knows without a doubt you are doing the best you can in each moment).
How about instead of being a Bad Mom or a Good Mom, we just show up as a Mom? The most basic requirement of the job is to keep the child alive, what comes beyond that is up to you and them. How about we focus more on our connection with these little human not their achievements? Instead of racing for an invisible finish line in the distance, we meander through the park chasing a butterfly. How about we stop worrying about what other people define as being a good or a bad mom and just be the most supportive person we know how to be?
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.